Where Y'Eat

New Orleans writer Ian McNulty hosts Where Y'Eat, a weekly exploration and celebration of food culture in the Crescent City and south Louisiana.

Ian gives listeners the low-down on the hottest new restaurants, old local favorites, and hidden hole-in-the-wall joints alike, and he profiles the new trends, the cherished traditions, and the people and personalities keeping America's most distinctive food scene cooking.

 

Subscribe to Where Y'Eat as a podcast:

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2. Go to the File Menu, click on Subscribe to Podcast…

3. Enter this URL: itpc://wwno.org/podcasts/6095/rss.xml

And that’s it! New episodes download automatically.

Ways to Connect

The bakery counter at Breads on Oak, a modern New Orleans bakery on Oak Street.
Ian McNulty

From the most basic ingredients, bakers create wonders. It’s that pastry that makes up for getting up early, the cakes that become centerpieces of our celebrations, the anytime indulgences that get us through the day and, it’s even the unadorned loaves that are so tempting we have to tear off a piece before the bread ever makes it home. It all starts with age-old essentials, and the transformative potential of skill and craft.

In New Orleans these days, though, bakers are transforming more than just their ingredients.

Each year at Hogs for the Cause, cook-off teams compete and raise money. The teams have developed a culture that extends year round.
Photo courtesy of Hogs for the Cause

For one weekend, the charity cook-off Hogs for the Cause transforms a big outdoor spread in New Orleans into something like a Southern-style never-never land.

The fried seafood boat at Morton's Seafood in Madisonville.
Ian McNulty

The seafood boat is not a po-boy, and it’s different from a seafood platter. It belongs to its own niche. It flies brazenly in the face of modern low-carb diets, but survives at a handful of eateries. It can kindle cravings in those with a nostalgic bent, and maybe event those who enjoy a little spectacle with their supper.

Matassa's Market dates back to the 1920s in the French Quarter, and it has changed to adjust to an evolving marketplace.
Ian McNulty

Conjure the image of the small neighborhood grocery and I bet the picture in your mind looks pretty appealing – something hands on and small scale, with character and personality between the register and the grocery aisles.

As a business plan, though, maybe the classic neighborhood market these days looks like a flourish of old-fashioned retail romanticism.

Cabbages will be flying as St. Patrick's Day parades roll in New Orleans. Just watch your face!
File photo

It’s March in New Orleans, parades are again on the calendar and feasts are on the itinerary. Have fun, but for heaven’s sake, beware of flying produce and at all times, watch out for your teeth.

I’m talking about a different type of seasonal awareness for our food, and one that was brought home to me in a natural but still unlikely place – the dentist chair.

Louisiana soft shell crabs are a prized find at local markets.
Ian McNulty

People in Louisiana are accustomed to finding delicious local crab everywhere – from fine dining restaurants to neighborhood joints to family affair seafood boils. But right now, Louisiana is finding its crab somewhere unexpected – and that’s off limits.

The state is in the midst of a first-of-its-kind closure of its blue crab fishery. It started just before Mardi Gras and continues through late March.

Ian McNulty

Some of the city's old-guard restaurants hold heralded places in Carnival tradition, and king cakes have been glittering extra brightly lately as chefs and bakers around New Orleans put their own stamp on its form and flavors.   

But, when it comes to keeping people going through the long haul of Carnival, the heavy lifting often falls to much more humble fare from unsung suppliers. These are the grocery stores, the delis and the specialty caterers of New Orleans, businesses that work at fever pitch once the parade season reaches its prime time. 

Ian McNulty

Plenty of us plan our days around food, fixating on that upcoming lunch or what’s for dinner. Since I cover dining and food culture for a living, this is actually part of my job description.

Still, for anyone, sometimes the workday gets away from the plan. You didn’t pack a lunch, you need to eat and wherever you land must be fast, and it must be close by.

The "square pizza" at Pizza Domenica in New Orleans is made with fresh-milled fllour from Bellegarde Bakery.
Ian McNulty

The wood-burning oven at the Uptown eatery Pizza Domenica turns out pizzas that are thin-crusted, char-marked and round. These days though, the same oven is also producing bigger, thicker, square-shaped pizzas.

They spread a terrain of sauce and cheese and darkened ridges across the length of a baking pan. They look distinctive. But the shape is just the tip of the slice for what makes these pizzas different.

Chicken wings with Korean-style sauce and mango at Bourree at Boucherie in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

The chicken wing rules the roost when it comes to football food, and this year I’m on the chicken wing bandwagon too. I mean, could there be any food more appropriate for a Falcons Super Bowl appearance than wings?

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